EastEnders 2023 storylines: Lola's death to Christmas flash-forward
All the Albert Square twists we'll get to see this year.
EastEnders is lining up a few jaw-dropping twists for 2023 and it's safe to say fans are in for a treat, courtesy of executive producer Chris Clenshaw and his team.
The BBC soap has already debuted its most ambitious storyline to date, a flash-forward presenting a Christmas whodunnit involving six leading ladies.
Knives Out meets How to Get Away with Murder, this deadly showdown at the Queen Vic sees all women suspected of having killed a Walford male resident whose identity has yet to be disclosed. Only time will tell whether any – or all – of them are truly guilty.
In the meantime, as Clenshaw reminded viewers, loyalties and relationships are bound to change on Albert Square. As the show gears up to unravel a satisfying end to the year, read on for more details on the flash-forward and other EastEnders storylines possibly converging into this big murder mystery.
EastEnders 2023 storylines - from Christmas flash-forward to Lola's death
The flash-forward: who dies in EastEnders?
The soap shocked fans with its first-ever flash-forward storyline, which began to mark the show's 38th anniversary last February.
A ladies' lock-in at the Vic turned deadly for Linda Carter (Kellie Bright), Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), Suki Kaur Panesar (Balvinder Sopal), Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), Denise Fox (Diane Parish), and Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean). When the action jumps ten months into the future, the Vic has become a murder scene.
Adorned with festive lights, Linda's pub is the venue for a party, with a delicious-looking, multi-tiered wedding cake and canapés sitting out for guests to arrive. Things quickly turn sour when it becomes clear that our six ladies are standing over a dead body.
Some of the Walford Six seem guiltier than others, as Linda sports a split lip, while Stacy looks down at her bloody hands in disbelief and Diane holds a broken bottle that could well have served as the murder weapon.
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The camera lingers on the characters, one by one, before it pans to reveal Sharon wrapped in a white, lacy wedding dress. Wait, is she currently set to get married? No, not in the present at least.
After the flashback aired, Clenshaw opened up about this huge storyline. He admitted he was looking to incorporate a whodunnit to the story as this narrative device has been enjoying a new surge in popularity over the last few years. But it had to be done in a way that could be unique to EastEnders.
"We developed the idea and thought it would be even more exciting if we didn't reveal who the victim is – becoming so much more than a 'whodunnit'… It’s a 'who-is-it' as well," Clenshaw said.
"We then decided to kick the story off at a time when The Six – Linda, Suki, Kathy, Stacey, Denise and Sharon – are each involved in stories connected to the men in their lives, which fortunately happened to be around the 38th anniversary of EastEnders."
While he was obviously tight-lipped about the victim and the murderer's identity – or identities – he urged viewers to go back and rewatch the flash-forward scene.
"There were clues in there. Did you look closely? I urge everyone to re-watch the scene and look at every detail. There's also a few treats in the scene if you look hard enough."
Which you can be sure we'll do multiple times between now and December.
Sharon Watts's wedding
We didn't see this one coming as Sharon ins't even engaged at the minute. The soap had previously announced wedding bells would indeed ring on the Square this Christmas (more on that later), but we didn't anticipate two ceremonies.
Though unexpected, it's almost certain that Dean's character is getting hitched. In the flash-forward, she's surrounded by her friends in their best party attires but there's no trace of the groom.
Unless, of course, he's the one lying on the floor. Sharon almost immediately goes to check on the victim in the flash-forward, realising there's no pulse. After the camera give us a good look at the man's cufflinks, the bride declares "he's dead" – yet she doesn't look half as devastated as if the corpse belonged to the love of her life.
She and her ex-lover and baby daddy Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) decided to give their romance another shot in recent scenes, but his one-night stand with Chelsea Fox (Zaraah Abrahams) left Sharon furious.
Could these two make it up and commit to each other before 2023 bows out? Possibly. Meanwhile, eagle-eyed fans spotted Eve Unwin (Heather Peace) picking up the frock Sharon will be wearing at Christmas in the present.
Lola Pearce-Brown's death confirmed
Amidst the excitement for a thrilling storyline, the flash-forward confirmed a sad event will take place before Christmas.
Lola Pearce-Brown's (Danielle Harold) death is already on the cards as she has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. However, future scenes revealed she will have passed away by the time the soap picks up on its Christmas murder.
Her picture can be seen on the bar, a place the Vic has normally reserves to pay tribute to Walford residents who have recently died.
In an exclusive chat with RadioTimes.com, Harold opened up on getting such a delicate storyline right by consulting medical advisors as well as oncology patients and families.
"I'm so conscious of making sure I tell it as truthfully as I can," the actress said.
"We have amazing medical advisers, I’ve done as much research as I could and am grateful to have met incredible people at different stages of the illness, and their families, who have helped us do it properly. It's been a long journey and I've been taking it bit by bit."
Will Kat Slater and Phil Mitchell tie the knot?
And now to the other Walford wedding, which, to be fair, pales in comparison to Sharon's presumed nuptials.
Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) will give their ceremony another go after their first attempt didn't go quite as planned. Recently, the soap aired a scene hinting at their wedding taking place at Christmas, with Kat asking Phil to postpone their big day until the festive season.
Does this mean we'll have not one, but two Christmas weddings on the Square? Historically, saying "I do" during the holidays wasn't always the luckiest option for those involved – just ask Mick Carter (Danny Dyer).
And should EastEnders double down on its Christmas wedding tragedy pattern, could Phil be the one kicking the bucket?
The Queen Vic gets a new owner
Speaking of Mick, his jailed wife Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) intends to sell his shares in the Vic, forcing Linda to find a new buyer or risk losing everything she's worked for.
Suki's husband Nish (Navin Chowdhry) and Sharon are both interested in getting the keys to the castle, but EastEnders has hinted at Linda enlisting the help of a third party in a teasing phone call.
"Linda is in secret talks with someone else," Clenshaw announced on Loose Women recently, adding: "Her knight in shining armour isn't who you'd expect it to be."
Who is this potential buyer and how will they react to their pub becoming a crime scene?
Rocky Cotton's ex-wife Jo rocks up on the Square
Kathy and Rocky Cotton (Brian Conley) are set to tie the knot soon, but a new arrival will no doubt shake things up.
Rocky's past is set to be discovered as Vicki Michelle has been cast as his ex-wife Jo Cotton and will soon come face to face with an unaware Kathy.
"She's a hoot - the scenes with Jo and Rocky and Kathy are brilliant," Clenshaw recently said.
As for Michelle, the actress said she's "excited" to join the soap.
"Jo Cotton is a great character and it is such a great story. I can't wait for the audience to meet her," she added.
Stacey Slater goes to great lengths to protect her family
Finally, it seems that bloody-handed Stacey will have a few secrets of her own in upcoming scenes.
Clenshaw teased a "big year" ahead for the Slaters, with Stacey resorting to an unexpected move to watch out for her loved ones as loan shark Shiv (Peter Caulfield) is threatening her.
At the moment, Turner's character is struggling financially, taking up a night job to make ends meet, as well as still wrapping her head around her 12-year-old daughter Lily's (Lillia Turner) pregnancy.
It looks as though tables will turn for Stacey, courtesy of an unexpected career change. The food vendor is set to become a content creator for OnlyFans, a platform mainly used by sex workers to promote their activity.
"We'll see her do something that she hasn't done before and go to quite some extreme lengths to protect her family," the soap's boss revealed earlier this year.
What else has EastEnders in store for Stacey? And to what extent is she involved in the Christmas whodunit? There's only one way to find out.
- Who dies in EastEnders at Christmas 2023? Flash-forward shows bloody death
- EastEnders' Diane Parish on Christmas whodunnit: "I'm really scared it's me"
- EastEnders' Kellie Bright predicts dead character is someone we've not met
- EastEnders' Lacey Turner predicts "accidental death" in Christmas whodunnit
- EastEnders' Balvinder Sopal on Christmas killer: "I would like it to be Suki"
- EastEnders' Letitia Dean on flash-forward mystery: "I think it’s so open"
- EastEnders' Gillian Taylforth says flash-forward left cast "stunned"
Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide, or visit our Soaps hub.
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